Are humans a 'plague on the Earth'?

Beloved nature commentator David Attenborough says he has the key to solving climate change and other threats: Limit population growth.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 23, 2013 2:16PM


Sir David Attenborough in September 2012 (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)David Attenborough has been called one of England's national treasures for his work hosting natural history programs on television, but his latest remarks might offend many of his fans. 


Humans "are a plague on the Earth," Attenborough, 86, told the Radio Times magazine.


Climate change and food shortages are due to human overpopulation, he said. 


His prescription for solving the problem? "Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he said.


Attenborough, who was knighted in the 1980s, has made his views on population growth known before. He became a supporter of the group Population Matters in 2009, according to the U.K.'s Telegraph


Population Matters supports "working for a global population size providing a good standard of living for all and environmental sustainability," and runs campaigns supporting family planning, free- or low-cost contraception and limiting free in-vitro fertilization to people without children, according to its website.


In his latest comments, Attenborough suggested that TV programs highlighting the plight of Africans suffering from famine are part of the problem. 


"We keep putting on programs about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves -- and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse," he said.


His comments are spurring some debate and disagreement, with Bjorn Lomborg, the author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," telling the Telegraph that Attenborough's Malthusian views are outdated. 


"We have dramatically more people but also ways to make agriculture more productive on less land," Lomborg said.  


He added that it's a "human-hating" point of view to believe that the only way to save the earth's species is to reduce the human population. 


The earth's population was estimated to have hit 7 billion in October, with more than half of those people born within the last 40 years.


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365Comments
Jan 24, 2013 4:02AM
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why would anyone be offended, unless of course there are those that are so egotistical they can`t see for themselves that we are the greatest threat to every species on the planet including ourselves.
Jan 24, 2013 3:51AM
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The cure for this disease will be biblical.
Jan 24, 2013 3:44AM
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I see commercials on television about starving kids worldwide. What kind of inhuman being brings a child into the world if there is no means to feed him? Animals breed without thought of starving,suffering babies. Why do humans act like animals?
Jan 24, 2013 3:39AM
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He is a forthright man for speaking the truth. The planet is running out of resources and the land cannot produce the food to sustain the population growth. The ONLY solution tor overpopulation is the most horrible of all...WWIII.
Jan 24, 2013 3:01AM
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The Population Bomb,

Dr Paul Erlich's 1969 seminal work by the same name was something of a follow-up to the 19th century treatise on food production and runaway population growth by Thomas Malthus. The human race is, without equivocation, running headlong into a planet-wide crises that may very well be unavoidable. Even with agricultural advances via technology humans can do only so much to feed its burgeoning population. The Earth currently has a net gain of about 93 Million people per annum, or roughly the population of two Australias added to the surface of the planet each and every year. This planet's resources of potable water, clean air, arable land, ocean life, timber, natural energy etc are all finite, and everything is being consumed at alarmingly faster rates because of the needs of unchecked human population growth. It is clearly not a sustainable scenario. David Attenborough, (and Pogo) are correct ... "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Peace to all ~

Jan 24, 2013 1:55AM
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finally someone with a PHD speaks there mind on this issue that is relevant to us all. yes earth is overpopulated with flatulating humans and all there refuse. we cannot afford to add another billion to the population the powers that be, will let the next pandemic run its course while doing all it can to protect its own! god help us all.
Jan 24, 2013 12:36AM
Jan 24, 2013 12:15AM
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why would some one be offended by this aimee? you dont think 7 billion people on earth isn"t alot this to me is common sense, humans are wasteful the more people you have the more poor then you by cheap wasteful materials when you dont have money to by ae solar panels ,electric cars etc environmentally friendly  stuff,their is more to look at than just growing crops on less land,hell look at are oceans we have a garbage patch in both oceans the size as the us,trust you i don't think anybody is going to be offended by saying we need to control population
Jan 24, 2013 12:10AM
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here's a thought...for your consideration...since the human presence itself does not create a strain on natural resources but the actions of humans...let's consider control population growth based upon direct contributors of pollution causing events by nation and ethnic groups within those nations....wonder which nations would join 'the third world' in being at the bottom of the list of non-polluters and hence non-threatening inhabitants....then maybe we can establish baby credits...like carbon credits...so the real polluters and destroyers can continue to get away with it and continue to pro-create after their kind....?????...maybe?????
Jan 24, 2013 12:06AM
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Too Many People in the World! Too Many People Overusing Resources (Pigs!) And As the Comment Below Says: Too Many Stupid People Over-Breeding! I've Been Saying This For Years! I LOVE that Now Finally It's In Print!!
Jan 23, 2013 11:56PM
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shameful...that this man is not revealed for the true racist that he is!...of all the areas on the planet where population density is an 'issue', he, like those of his ilk masquerading as intellectuals and humanitarians, points to 'poor little Ethiopia'. really... Ethiopia is the best example?...really?....not tens of millions of acres of fertile agriculture land not in production that can feed all of humanity...forever????...really?...wow....and he is given credence!....there is no hope for our future...not because of overpopulation....but rather because of obtuse populates
Jan 23, 2013 11:47PM
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Population control is one way to deal with the problems that present themselves, but it is just one way. There are many ways available for humans to sustain themselves on the planet indefinitely and preserve the planet.  And, I'd rather see intellectuals work together to find solutions, rather than compete with eachother, and enjoy hearing themselves preach. 

Jan 23, 2013 11:39PM
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Try explaining that to religious nut jobs who do not believe in family planning,birth control and or limited resources. 
Jan 23, 2013 11:35PM
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the world is growing one slum at a time..
Jan 23, 2013 11:22PM
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we should start by sending all the blacks back to africa,that would solve the major crime problem we have. Your welcome.
Jan 23, 2013 11:21PM
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i wonder when god will hit the reset button?
Jan 23, 2013 11:07PM
Jan 23, 2013 10:53PM
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its the decivilization of the abba zabbas and the mex haveing 8 to 10 monkeys and then leaveing them to rob and burn to live..its the end period.no way back except the final solution. If you want a REAL  reality show? watch "In The First 48 Hrs" to see the no spin culture as it really is.the liberal **** allowed to happen.
Jan 23, 2013 10:35PM
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anyone who believes in demons fails the IQ test

Jan 23, 2013 10:34PM
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Dont put us in the same group as all the 3rd world mud rat countries. We are not expanding the population. Take out the 40 million illegals that snuck in here and we're near 2% PER YEAR.  
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